Immigrants in handcuffs and ankle chains arrive at the Federal Courthouse for hearings, Thursday, June 21, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to end family separations at the border. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

WHAT'S HAPPENING: A struggle for next steps on immigration

June 21, 2018 - 7:37 pm

A day after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that stopped the separations of parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border, the government wrestled with the ramifications of the order and had no clear plan to reunite the more than 2,300 children with their mothers and fathers. A look at the latest developments:


In a day of confusion and conflicting reports, the Trump administration began drawing up plans to house as many as 20,000 migrants on U.S. military bases. But officials gave differing accounts as to whether those beds would be for children or for entire families.

At the same time, the Justice Department went to court in an attempt to overturn a decades-old settlement that limits to 20 days the amount of time migrant children can be locked up with their families.

Meanwhile, Democratic mayors and religious leaders traveled to the border to step up pressure on the White House over its hard-line immigration policies.


Virginia's governor ordered state officials to investigate abuse claims by children at an immigration detention facility who said they were beaten while handcuffed, locked up for long periods in solitary confinement and left nude and shivering in concrete cells.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced the probe in a tweet hours after The Associated Press reported the allegations. They were included in a federal civil rights lawsuit with a half-dozen sworn statements from Latino youths held for months or years at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center. The AP report also cited an adult who saw bruises and broken bones the children said were caused by guards.

Northam, a Democrat, said the allegations were disturbing and directed the state's secretary of public safety and homeland security and the Department of Juvenile Justice to report back to him "to ensure the safety of every child being held there."

Children as young as 14 said the guards there stripped them of their clothes and strapped them to chairs with bags placed over their heads.


Temporary immigrant shelters at military bases could be opened by next month.

A Pentagon memo to members of Congress, obtained by the AP, said the military has been asked to have the facilities available as early as July, through the end of the year.

The memo said Health and Human Services personnel or contractors for HHS "will provide all care for the children," including supervision, meals, clothing, medical services, transportation and other daily needs.

It's not clear which bases will be used to house the children. HHS has assessed facilities on four military bases, but the Pentagon said it has not been told which, if any, of the four will be used.

The Pentagon said it will have no role in operating the temporary shelters, which would be controlled by HHS.


In the Texas border city of McAllen, federal prosecutors unexpectedly did not pursue charges against 17 immigrants.

A federal prosecutor said "there was no prosecution sought" in light of Trump's executive order ending the practice of separating families.

It was unclear whether that meant the Trump administration was dropping its months-old "zero tolerance" policy of prosecuting all adults caught trying to enter the country illegally.

The president did not answer the question directly but showed no sign of softening.

"We have to be very, very strong on the border. If we don't do it, you will be inundated with people and you really won't have a country," Trump said.


The House killed a hard-right immigration bill, and Republican leaders delayed a planned vote on a compromise GOP package with the party's lawmakers fiercely divided over an issue that has long confounded them.

The conservative measure was defeated 231-193, with 41 Republicans — mostly moderates — joining Democrats in voting against it. Those defections — nearly 1 in 5 GOP lawmakers — underscored the party's chasm over immigration and the election-year pressures Republicans face to stay true to districts that range from staunchly conservative to pro-immigrant.

Thursday's vote set the stage for debate on the second bill, this one crafted by Republican leaders in hopes of finding an accord between the party's sparring moderate and conservative wings.

See AP's complete coverage of the debate over the Trump administration's policy of family separation at the border: .

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